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City Attorney Rejects LA Council Member’s Push For Lawsuit Against LAUSD: It's 'Adversarial'

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A proposal by L.A. Councilmember Joe Buscaino to file a lawsuit seeking to force the L.A. Unified School District to reopen its campuses was rejected today by City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office.

“The city attorney doesn’t support a lawsuit,” a spokesperson for Feuer told LAist. “A lawsuit is an adversarial move.”

Buscaino introduced a motion at Tuesday’s council meeting requesting the City Attorney “to report to the City Council on legal options to compel the Los Angeles Unified School District to immediately reopen its school campuses and resume in-person instruction for students, including, but not limited to, initiating litigation, or joining existing litigation.” Councilmember Gil Cedillo seconded the motion.

Buscaino first floated the proposal last week and faced heavy backlash from LAUSD leadership. On Tuesday morning, hours before the council meeting, Feuer weighed in with his own statement:

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"I know our public schools well. My dad was a public school teacher, principal and volunteer for 60 years, my kids were educated by the LAUSD and I've worked closely with the District on issues from literacy to school safety. We all understand how urgently important it is to reopen our schools, and to do so safely. The best way to achieve these shared goals is to work together, not as adversaries. I will help in any way I can.”

In an interview, Buscaino vowed that he would “keep prodding.”

“We’re still pushing, because words are great, but we also need to have a tool in place to hold the district, the county, the state accountable,” he said.

Besides offering some specialized, small-group instruction last semester, LAUSD campuses have remained closed throughout the pandemic. Currently, COVID-19 cases are above the state threshold for in-person classes, but local public health officials have predicted the district could become eligible to reopen this month.

In his weekly address on Monday, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner indicated that he expects vaccinations for teachers, in addition to lower case rates, before he would reopen schools.

Buscaino took that announcement from Beutner as evidence that his threats of a lawsuit may have pushed the district to start forming a reopening plan.

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“It’s very encouraging to see momentum toward finalizing a plan to reopen our schools safely,” Buscaino said. “If my actions leading up to today has helped elevate and shed light on the importance of safely reopening our schools...then it was well worth it.”

In response to Buscaino’s suggestion, an LAUSD spokesperson referenced an earlier statement from Beutner, criticizing Buscaino’s proposal.

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